‘Fast fashion’ arrives

A clothing retailer known for “fast fashion” has added Red Deer to its international network of stores.

Lucy van der Wal

A clothing retailer known for “fast fashion” has added Red Deer to its international network of stores.

H&M welcomed shoppers into its Bower Place Shopping Centre outlet on Thursday. The store, which has more than 14,000 square feet of retail space, carries clothing for both sexes, from children to adults.

The H&M name is well-known internationally, with approximately 1,700 stores in 33 countries. The company has a reputation for quickly bringing the latest fashion styles to mainstream consumers at low prices.

The Red Deer store is H&M’s fifth in Alberta and 47th in Canada. But with only nine stores west of Ontario, the company wants to grow its western presence, said Lucy van der Wal, president of H&M Canada.

“Western Canada is our focus; that’s our growth market,” said van der Wal, who was in Red Deer for the opening of the local store.

She added that H&M is eager to raise its profile among consumers.

“Our focus is very much on brand-building throughout Canada.”

H&M’s growth strategy has not been affected by the economic downturn, said van der Wal.

“Because of our concept, because our business focus is the fashion and the price, it is easier for people to come to us,” she said, suggesting that high-end clothing retailers have been hit harder by the recession.

“It’s still tough, but the fact that we’re still expanding shows there is growth.”

Red Deer is one of the smaller Canadian markets in which H&M operates, said van der Wal. The decision to locate here reflects the appeal of the newly renovated Bower Place Shopping Centre, and the demographics of the region, she said.

Van der Wal added that there was nothing in Red Deer that matches H&M’s mix of fashion and affordability.

“I think there was kind of a need here.”

Established in Sweden in 1947 as Hennes (Swedish for “hers”), H&M expanded into men’s wear after acquiring a hunting equipment store called Mauritz Widforss. The resulting name of Hennes and Mauritz was later abbreviated.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com

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